Sunday, April 30, 2006
Source: Jack Keller
More Fun Facts at Santa Cruz Style
Home brew "hobby" grows up
Those were the sounds at one local working farm as its owners prepared for this weekend's Piedmont Farm Tour.
In what sounded like spitting tobacco from between your teeth, the drip irrigation system spurted water onto young roots. A tractor mowed an area that would become a play area for young visitors, and insects did their necessary song and dance routine for Mother Nature.
And Andy Zeman, who owns Benjamin Vineyards & Winery with his wife, Nancy, was busy Monday morning putting up a tent in preparation for the tour.
Last update: April 25, 2006 – 3:23 PM
Operator Alan Breeggemann monitored the pregermination bin as it filled with barley at Rahr Malting Co. Sprouted barley is dried at Rahr in a process that turns grain into malt for brewing and other purposes. Rahr and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux tribe are partners in a proposed new power plant.
Jeff Thompson, Star Tribune
It might seem an unlikely partnership. But together, Rahr Malting Co. of Shakopee and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community hope to cure their fossil fuel headaches, and help the environment while they're at it.
Rahr and the tribe have announced plans for an eco-friendly, $40 million power plant that would generate 15 megawatts of electricity and 125 million BTU of heat per hour -- enough heat and electricity to run Rahr's malting operation, and then some.
More at the Star-Tribune
A system of measurement, given in degrees, of the amount of sugar present in grape juice. Similar systems are used in different countries, eg. the Balling, Baumé and Oechsle scales, all providing sugar content measurements that can be used to approximate the final alcohol content of wine being produced. See also must weight.
Another definiton from Onlineconversion.com
Balling: The name of a density scale for measuring sugar content in water base solutions. Since grape juice is primarily sugar and water, the balling scale was used for a quick and easy "sugar analysis" of juice. The Balling scale contained a slight inaccuracy however, and it was corrected by Dr Brix. Today the Brix scale is in actual use, but the terms Balling and Brix often are used interchangeably.
The Balling (Brix) scale is simplicity itself: Each degree is equivalent to 1 percent of sugar in the juice. For example, grape juice which measures 15.5 degrees on the Balling or Brix scale contains about 15.5% sugar.
Now that you know the Brix of your juice, you can easily fiqure out how much alcohol your juice will make by using this formula:
Brix count x .575
So if your brix count is 23, take 23 x .575, which equals 13.23. Your wine should be slightly over 13% alcohol content whenever it is done fermenting.
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OK, so you've heard about how complicated learning old-world wines is, right? I personally, even after over a decade of enjoy and learning, have TONS to learn about old-world wines. And, admittedly, I will ask the sommelier for recommendations on those wines, particularly French, because I'll spend a couple bills on a wine to go with a dinner but I'm not going to waste that on a "guess". This frustration with old-world wines and learning the regions makes the learning curve even longer (at least for me).
Read More at Vivi's Wine Journal
Over the weekend, I opened a bottle of 3 year old Burgundy wine that I had made. It was one of the first of my wines that was not made with store bought materials. It was also one of the first where I used oak chips to impart an oak flavoring. Well, needless to say, the oak flavoring is rather strong. Hey, being a "newbie" at the time how would I know how much to use. The article below (from EC Kraus) gives a good overview on oaking. Two other articles worth reading are at Grapestompers and Winemaker Magazine.
USING OAK CHIPS TO AGE YOUR WINE
It has long been understood that aging red wines in oak casks improves its flavor and character much more so than just aging these wines in glass or plastic. French winemakers have employed this method for centuries, the result being wines of remarkable complexity and flavor. The insides of these barrels are lightly toasted.
This brings out a velvety, sweet character in the wood that through time is captured by the wine that is stored within. The warm texture that is added to these wines is without question an alluring improvement. While barrel aging is without question the ultimate way to age red wines, there is another option that has close to the same effect. We call them Toasted Oak Chips. They are simply chips of oak that have been evenly toasted to match the toasting of a wine barrel. These chips of wood are the same special type of oak wood that is used to produce wine barrels. Using the correct type of oak wood is important.
Some oak varieties will do more damage than good to a wine. Some release more tannic acid than others, producing a wine with immeasurable harshness and bitterness.
It is also important that the oak wood be air-dried for several years so as to become "sap clear". Their use is very straight forward. The only preparation necessary is to boil the oak chips in water for about 10 minutes. Once your wine has cleared and is ready for aging, rack it into a clean container and add the Toasted Oak Chips - typically 2 to 4 ounces for every 5 gallons - and allow to age 3 to 9 months.
How much you use and the amount of time it is given to age in the wine varies along with the character of the wine. In general, the fuller or more hearty the wine is the more wood and aging it will required to reach its ultimate flavor and balance. Just sample the wine every 3 to 4 weeks to monitor the wine's aging progress.